In a couple of weeks, I’ll be renewing my lifeguard certification, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about what you can do with the knowledge you gain when you become a lifeguard.
Two years ago, I’d just finished my lifeguard training. In fact, I didn’t even have my certificate yet. At that time, I was cleaning house every Friday for a family that went to my co-op. They had five kids, so they understandably occasionally needed a maid and/or babysitting. I did both. This family consisted of a baby, a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, and an 8-year-old. About two years ago, I was busy cleaning one of the bathrooms when I heard this noise, SLAM! And then, “WAHHHHH!”
I stuck my head out of the bathroom to see if everything was all right. Uh, no. As it turned out, the 4-year-old had slammed the 2-year-old’s finger in his bedroom door. The poor little thing was holding her very bloody finger up and bawling her eyes out. It looked like the tip of finger was hanging off. Having just completed my training, I knew the finger needed fixing. I immediately scooped the child up and took her to her mother, who freaked out. She gasped, picked the little girl up, carried her to kitchen, set her down on the floor, and… fainted. Yep, that’s right, the mom caught one good look at the blood and passed out.
So I’m standing there in the kitchen, very acutely aware of everything that’s going on around me. I could sense the other children right behind me becoming grotesquely curious. I could see the mom out cold on the floor, and I could see the kid still crying her eyes out with a nasty finger slice. My mind was racing. “Kid, or mom? Kid or mom?” Who to deal with first? I went with the kid. I grabbed the nearest clean towel and wrapped it over the cut up finger. Then, I pulled a bag of frozen peas that the mom had already pulled out of the freezer and folded it over on top of the kid’s hand. She was less than pleased about this, but in no condition to complain. By the time I finished this, the mother had awoken.
We both quickly came to the conclusion that the kid should probably go to the hospital. I also knew, given the condition the mom was in, that I needed to go with them. So I helped load the baby and the still-screaming 2-year-old into the car and called my mom to come watch the rest of the kids. We immediately left, knowing my mom would be there in minutes.
So began the most perilous 15 minutes of my life as the mom swerved all over the road, broke many traffic rules, and did her level best to terrify me as we drove to the nearest hospital. Actually, I wasn’t all that scared. I was praying really hard that we’d all make it there alive, but I wasn’t too worried about it. This is mainly because I already had a lot to deal with. I was in the back seat leaning across the baby’s car seat to keep pressure on the finger of the 2-year-old, who was still screaming bloody, uh, finger. Of course, the 2-year-old’s screaming only made the baby start crying, which in turn made the mother even more frantic than she already was. During all of this, I managed to keep up a running debate with the mom on whether we should take the kid to local children’s hospital or to the slightly closer normal hospital. I convinced her that we should most definitely go the closest hospital imaginable
so that I could get out of the stinking van so that we could get treatment for the kid faster. In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better if we’d taken the kid to the children’s hospital.
When we finally made it to the hospital, I told the mom to go ahead in and get the 2-year-old checked in, and I’d be in with the baby in a second. There was just one problem with that. I had no idea how to take a car seat out of a car. I stood there a moment until a woman parked beside us, who had observed me struggling for a good 3 minutes, finally offered to help. She (and her kid) laughed as she quickly and easily removed the seat and handed me the carrier. I felt like a dork, but I locked the car and went inside to wait until they called the little girl back.
And we waited. And waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. In fact, we waited for over 5 HOURS!!! Apparently, we had checked in during a triage nurse shift change and the hospital staff had lost a little girl with half the tip of her finger hanging off in the shuffle. In those 5 hours, the mother and I spent most of the time passing the kid and the baby back and forth. One moment I remember vividly was when I was holding the two year old. She was still whimpering after probably 3 hours of sitting there. I held her on my lap, rested my chin on top of her sweaty little head, rocked gently back and forth, and started singing. I softly sung “Jesus Loves Me” to her in my most soothing voice. Then she surprised us both by starting to sing it with me. You could hear the audible “Aww!” coming from everyone watching.
After 5 hours of waiting for them to let us in, I finally went up to the front desk and demanded to know why the guy with a light cough next to us had been let in, but the 2-year-old with a hanging finger was still stuck in the waiting room. They triaged us again, and then after maybe 5 more minutes, sent us back to a hospital room. We waited around ten minutes until a nurse came in, checked the kid, and then sent us to get an x-ray done. Because the baby wasn’t allowed in the radiology room, I went in with the kid. I held her hand down while they x-rayed it, and then got asked by the technician is I was the mom. I laughed and explained that no, I was the babysitter/maid, and the mom was outside holding the baby. She gave me a look which I took as a compliment, and I returned her look with one of my own: Yes, I know I’m a super babysitter.
After that was over, they sent us back to the hospital room and told us a doctor would be with us shortly. It was probably an hour before anyone came to see us because I had time to go to get lunch, get lost in the hospital, retrieve lunch, get lost in the hospital again, bring lunch back, and eat lunch before anyone came to see us again. By the time they did, the baby was sleeping, the 2-year-old was tired and a little loopy, and the mom had finally calmed down. So of course that had to change.
Finally, it was time to sew up the kid’s finger. Miraculously, there were no broken bones. A nurse and a finger-sewing-up-specializing doctor had arrived with lots of syringes and sutures. They raised up the table and had the little girl lay down on her back. The nurse held onto her lower body, and again, I was asked to restrain her. I held onto the arm connected to the hand being worked on. I’m not sure why it was a good idea to put me, a 16-year-old at the time, in charge of that, but whatever. The doctor stuck a needle into her tiny finger and started injecting numbing stuff, which was supposed to help the 2-year-old to not feel any pain. The kid had a different perspective, that they were killing her. Therefore, she resumed screaming bloody murder. Having had this kind of shot before, I can understand how she felt. I once had to get stitches in my toe, and that stupid shot hurt way worse the cut on my toe. But I digress.
I, of course, being the curious homeschooler that I was, watched the entire procedure. On the other hand, I vehemently encouraged the mom to not watch it. She was already unsteady on her feet, and I feared that she might drop the baby. During this procedure, I sat down on a stool with my knees underneath the table. Remember that bit. Eventually, the doctor finished sewing up the finger, and he bit us all adieu.
The nurse, oblivious as she was, wanted to get out of there, and probably just glad that the screaming had ceased, began to lower the bed back down to where it had been… Guess whose legs were still under the table? Yeah, mine. She lowered the bed directly onto my uncovered (because I was wearing shorts) knees. When I starting yelling and banging on the bed, she realized her error and pulled the bed up. I pushed away from the bed amid her profuse apologies. I stood up telling her that there was no harm done, although I now had a bruise and cuts in the exact shape of the underside of the table. The nurse made up for it by giving me and the 2-year-old popsicles. Yes, that’s right, everything, even nurse-inflicted bruises can be solved by popsicles (my mom still made me report it).
Finally, we all went back to the family’s house to relieve my mom, who had apparently gained the never-ending love of the remaining kids. After saying goodbye, we went home. After that, I think I took a nap.
Have you ever had something like this happen to you?